No one on the World Series of Fighting roster fits the description of centerpiece talent better than Marlon Moraes.
The 27-year-old Brazilian will defend his bantamweight crown against Joseph Barajas in the WSOF 28 headliner on Saturday at the Next Level Sports Complex in Garden Grove, California. The NBC Sports Network will carry the event live at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
A protégé of former Pancrase champion Ricardo Almeida, Moraes will ride a career-best 10-fight winning streak into the cage. He last fought at WSOF 22 on Aug. 1, when he submitted blue-chip Team Nogueira prospect Sheymon da Silva Moraes with a third-round rear-naked choke at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Victories over Cody Bollinger, Carson Beebe, Tyson Nam and onetime World Extreme Cagefighting champion Miguel Torres have raised Moraes’ profile and helped put him on the map.
The once-beaten Barajas will make his run at the 135-pound title on the strength of back-to-back wins. A Tachi Palace Fights and Titan Fighting Championship veteran, the 27-year-old Californian last competed at WSOF 25 in November, when he disposed of Erik Villalobos with third-round punches at the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix. Barajas has delivered seven of his 12 professional victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
With the Moraes-Barajas title clash serving as the featured attraction, here are 10 facts surrounding World Series of Fighting 28:
FACT 1: Moraes was a two-time muay Thai national champion in his native Brazil before transitioning to mixed martial arts.
FACT 2: The 10 men Moraes has beaten during his current winning streak -- Moraes, Bollinger, Torres, Nam, Beebe, Josh Hill, Josh Rettinghouse, Brandon Hempleman, Jarrod Card and Chris Manuel -- own a cumulative record of 156-49-2.
FACT 3: Team Xplode MMA’s Barajas has five first-round finishes to his credit, including 51-, 52-, 85- and 92-second stoppages.
FACT 4: Barajas suffered his only career defeat against American Top Team-trained Swede Sirwan Kikai, submitting to a third-round arm-triangle choke at Titan Fighting Championship 31 in October 2014.
FACT 5: Believed to be the No. 1 contender in waiting in the WSOF bantamweight division, Timur Valiev has rattled off 10 straight wins since losing a decision to Olle Raberg in his pro debut on Sept. 4, 2010.
FACT 6: Chop Shop MMA’s Chris Gutierrez has fought in eight different organizations during his 10-fight career: Sugar Creek Showdown, World Fighting Championships, BattleGrounds MMA, Black and Gold Promotions, Bellator MMA, Xtreme Knockout, C3 Fights and Ring Rulers.
FACT 7: Jamie Yager appeared on Season 11 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series and reached the quarterfinals, along with Brad Tavares, Seth Baczynski, Court McGee, James Hammortree, Josh Bryant, Kyle Noke and Kris McCray.
FACT 8: All 32 defeats on the resume of Team Garage rep Daniel McWilliams have resulted in finishes.
FACT 9: Welterweight Ozzie Alvarez trains out of the Rafael Cordeiro-led Kings MMA outfit in Huntington Beach, California -- the same camp that is home to Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholders Fabricio Werdum and Rafael dos Anjos.
FACT 10: Andrew Ramm holds the rank of brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Eddie Bravo.